If you are one of the nearly 2 million people who have already purchased "The Marshall Mathers LP" by Eminem, you are sure to have caught the chilling fan-correspondence cut "Stan," which features an enigmatic vocal sample by an artist who's relatively recent to the hip-hop arena.
That sample was taken from a song called "Thank You" by London-based singer-songwriter Dido Armstrong, known simply as Dido, who released a well-reviewed solo debut, "No Angel," last year. Just hours after returning home following 13 months of touring in support of the LP, Dido talked to MTV News about the controversial rapper and how she came to appear on his new album.
"I got this letter out of the blue one day," Dido began. "It said, 'We like your album, we've used this track. Hope you don't mind, and hope you like it.' When they sent ['Stan'] to me and I played it in my hotel room, I was like, 'Wow! This track's amazing.'
"I'm not really sure how Eminem got [my song],"
she continued. "I've heard two different stories: One, that his engineer brought it to him, and the other is, and I know for a fact, that [producer] Mark The 45 King had 'Thank You' on one of his mix tapes." As it turns out, a friend passed the lengthy sample from Dido's song (which was also featured on the soundtrack of the Gwyneth Paltrow movie "Sliding Doors") along to the Detroit rapper.
In its entirety, "Thank You" is a very dulcet, rainy-day-London love song -- nothing like the murderously obsessive letter-writing-fan epic Eminem created around the snippet.
"It's literally one of those songs that took me only a few minutes to write," Dido said of "Thank You." "I was just sitting there thinking, I'm going to write a song about having a sh** day, and then one person, or anything -- it doesn't matter -- makes it all okay.
"It's not necessarily about one specific person," she continued. "It's about anyone who has something that makes them happy and just
being thankful for that one small thing that actually makes your life good. It's that simple."
Before Eminem put Dido on his "Marshall Mathers" album, which debuted at number one on the "Billboard" album chart with the second-biggest first-week sales figures in the history of the record business -- she was something of a secret, and hardly a sensation. While her track "Here With Me" was selected as the theme to the WB Network's teen-alien series "Roswell," "No Angel" virtually vanished from "Billboard" charts for about a year; the album made its comeback at number 144 the same week that Eminem's new release debuted.
"I do find it hard to believe that someone would rush off and buy my album after just hearing that small bit in Eminem's song," she commented.
While Dido and Eminem have never actually met, she is an admitted fan of the hit- and dis-maker. "I think it's refreshing that there's actually someone prepared to push the boundaries a bit and actually get
to number one. I'm really pleased about that," she said. "That's why I always stick up for Eminem, because he's totally different and totally out there. He's so intelligent. His rhymes and stuff, I mean, they're genius. Anyone who's prepared to totally say what they think and not care, and know that it's not all deadly serious, and do their thing and do it completely unique -- I think it's just so refreshing to have [a] number one doing that."
Eminem is not the first to discover the 26-year-old's ethereally soulful music. At age ten, Dido was skilled at the piano, violin, and recorder, and years later she began singing in various bands on the London music scene. She eventually hooked up with her brother Rollo's musical brainchild, Faithless, appearing on the trip-hop group's albums to date (1996's "Reverence" and 1998's "Sunday 8 PM") and touring with the band as well. Clive Davis signed Dido to Arista in 1997 as a solo artist, at which time she began to embark on recording and
producing "No Angel" with Rollo.
Currently, Dido is holed up in London for a quick breather before she heads back out on the road armed with a few new songs she's written during her travels. "With all the touring at the moment... I'm not going to get a chance to go into the studio until the beginning of next year," she said, adding that Rollo will return to the creative plate to produce "at least a few more tracks" with her for her next effort.
Dido just nailed down two dates opening for a longtime influence of hers, Sting, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on August 11 and 12. The singer will also be embarking on a headlining tour of the U.S. at the end of June, though those dates have yet to be established.